5 issues for Solskjaer to address with Manchester United
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been confirmed as Manchester United’s permanent new manager on a three-year contract.
The former United striker won 14 of his 19 games as temporary boss to convince the Old Trafford hierarchy he was the right man to succeed Jose Mourinho.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at the issues Solskjaer will need to address over the coming months.
Stick or twist with Sanchez
What to do with Alexis Sanchez? The Chile forward has flopped at Old Trafford since becoming the club’s highest-paid player in January 2018. The performance levels of every other United player have soared under Solskjaer, who has admitted only Sanchez himself holds the answers. Two goals in 23 appearances this season is a pitiful return for a reported annual salary of £14million. If Solskjaer can work his magic on the player, he would have one of the world’s best at his disposal, but if not he must move him on.
De Gea future a Real priority
Spain goalkeeper De Gea’s contract with United expires in the summer of 2020 and his representatives are currently locked in talks with the club over a possible new deal. It has been reported that the goalkeeper wants to increase his £200,000-a-week wages to £500,000 to stay in the Premier League and Real Madrid would surely meet his demands. Solskjaer must do all he can to keep De Gea by persuading him and the United hierarchy that the future of one of the world’s best stoppers lies at Old Trafford.
Easy does it with Pogba
Pogba is another prized asset that Solskjaer must keep happy. The enigmatic France international is a proven game-changer and has thrived under the Norwegian and his assistant Mike Phelan. Give Pogba his lead in a settled environment and in return he will produce world-class performances, but weigh him down with off-the-ball responsibilities and he will lose his glow. Solskjaer must continue to keep him at the heart of the United family, show him the love and play him in a role he relishes.
Time for a clear-out
Solskjaer’s permanent appointment could signal the departure of several fringe players, who have failed to establish themselves as first-team regulars under him. The United boss will undoubtedly want to make room for new arrivals in the summer and the likes of Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo may all be nearing the end of their Old Trafford careers. Eric Bailly is another whose future could be in doubt, especially since Chris Smalling and Phil Jones both recently signed new contracts.
Recruit players made of ‘right stuff’
Solskjaer’s quest to reinstate the club as genuine Premier League title challengers would be given a massive boost with a couple of blue riband summer signings. United fans have for years debated that only a player with certain characteristics can become a crowd favourite at Old Trafford, while the feelgood factor generated by such a signing can never be underestimated. Sanchez’s ill-fated spell at the club has cranked up the pressure – Solskjaer and his backroom team have to get their recruitment right.